Written By: - Date published: 4:01 pm, August 16th, 2016 - 175 comments
Categories: child welfare, class, class war, discrimination, housing, human rights, Media, welfare - Tags: child poverty, national shame, neo-liberalism, New Zealand, poverty
New Zealand making front page news in international media again. This time in a piece by Eleanor Ainge Roy in the Guardian. Below are some quoted excerpts from a piece that really should be read in full.
One-third of the country’s children, or 300,000, now live below the poverty line – 45,000 more than a year ago.
…, houses are wooden, damp and mouldy and often hold in excess of 10 people. Young children walk the streets in mid-winter with no shoes and gummy eyes. Looming over polluted streams and rubbish-strewn parks is the vast Double Brown Beer Brewery.
“Child poverty has always been here – especially among Maori and Pacific populations – but it wasn’t until homeless people started interrupting middle-class voters having coffee in central Auckland that the government decided to ‘tackle’ it.” said Kaa.
“If it’s segregated in South Auckland, fine. If it’s interrupting my latte asking me for money, we have a problem.”
“The consistent message from the government is that work is the route out of poverty, even though around 37% of children in poverty have two parents with two incomes,” said associate professor Michael Anthony O’Brien from the school of social work at Auckland University, who is also a member of the Child Poverty Action Group.
“The government is doing as little as they can get away with … the most significant action they’ve taken is increasing the benefit by about $25 a week for beneficiaries with kids. That’s it – that’s the biggest thing they’ve done.”
Darrin Hodgetts, a professor of societal psychology at Massey University and an expert on poverty in New Zealand, said the government’s stance that jobs would lead poor families out of poverty was nothing more than propaganda.
“We have to stop blaming the poor for being poor,” he said.
“The myth that these families are somehow inherently dysfunctional and they can’t look after their kids. That is not true. That children are failing because their families are bad. It is not true. The state is abusive, the welfare system is abusive, and after decades of this many people can’t cope.”
“It’s cut-throat in New Zealand. If you’re struggling you get left behind.”
As Saitu pores over files of documentation – applications for benefits, applications for disability assistance, applications for help – her two daughters draw pictures in the misted glass of the motel room. Looking in from outside the whole door is covered in their finger paintings – squiggly patterns, rain drops and a frowning sun.
“New Zealand is ashamed of us, they want to forget about us,” said Saitu, aggressively wiping tears from her eyes.
“New Zealand doesn’t want my children.”